Our Lady of Lourdes School will not offer kindergarten through eighth grade classes beginning next year to focus on rebuilding the school’s enrollment through the thriving preschool program there.
The 63-year-old school, originally staffed by the Union of Presentation Sisters religious community, has struggled with enrollment for nearly decade and its financial challenges were significantly worsened by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The financial reality of the school, an uphill battle for many years, is that enrollment is not nearly high enough to meet the basic and everyday expenses needed to offer quality Catholic education – from providing safe and clean facilities to paying teachers and administrators a just wage,” reads a joint letter from Father Clarence Saldua, M.S., Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and Dr. Samuel Torres, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese.
The letter describes a plan to expand the preschool at Our Lady of Lourdes School, which is currently full with a waiting list, to include a second classroom for three-year-old students. The goal of the rebuilding plan is to open a kindergarten class within five years and then add the lower grades each year after that.
Our Lady of Lourdes School was nearly forced to close in 2019 due to low enrollment and mounting debt. Instead, some staff consolidation was done when nearby St. Margaret Mary School Principal Waylynn Senn agreed to serve as principal and provide teacher and administrative staff support from his Chino campus to Our Lady of Lourdes School. Still, the school’s finances have drifted further into the red since.
“We know that this decision will be received painfully by many of our students and families who have come to call Our Lady of Lourdes School their educational and spiritual home,” Fr. Saldua and Dr. Torres wrote in their joint letter. “We walk with you in this moment of sadness after many years of concerted effort to bring the K-8 program to financial stability.”
The parish and Office of Catholic Schools are working actively with families at Our Lady of Lourdes School to help them place their children in other Catholic schools nearby for next year.